As dog owners we are conditioned into thinking that we can’t take our dogs into stores. Most of the time this is the correct assumption to make, particularly with stores that sell food. But some stores are increasingly dog friendly, and the Costco store is said to be one such company, but what is the truth?
I decided to find out once and for all, and actually interviewed some or their employees to get clarity on whether Costco allows dogs. Here’s what I found out.
Are dogs allowed in Costco? Costco’s dog policy officially states that only service dogs can come inside the store. However, there are some stores around the US that take a more relaxed approach and are dog friendly with very few employees checking the credentials of the dogs that enter the store.
What does that mean exactly, as it’s a bit confusing right? Well, from what I can gather, dogs are allowed at Costco, but only if they are service dogs. The definition of a service dog is as follows:
“Service dogs are working dogs that have been trained to perform tasks that assist disabled people. Service animals may also be referred to as assistance dogs, assist dogs, or helper dogs depending on the country and the dog’s function.”
They are not the same as emotional support dogs.
It’s quite clear that only certain types of dogs are permitted in the store. But you might have found that this dog policy is not enforced in your local Costco, and there’s a good reason why.
Is Costco dog friendly?
Costco is clearly a very dog friendly store, providing it’s a service dog. It appears that stores in the United States will all differ on how they bother to enforce the policy about service dogs. In fact, I found one store in Ohio that has this notice on their social media:
“Leashed dogs are welcome inside Costco, but they must be under control and cleaned up after.”
It appears that the Costco dog policy is something that will differ and depends on what the store manager’s opinion is. This assumption is backed up by what some Costco employees told me on Twitter. Here’s a selection of the best comments:
“Our store never enforces the service dog rule. Management have told us that as long as the dog doesn’t mess on the floor, act aggressive or scare customers then it’s fine for them to come in.”
“My manager told me that it’s too much of a grind to ask every dog owner who comes inside the store for documentation proving their animal is a service dog. To be honest, none of us want to ask anyway, it’s too awkward. As long as you clean up after your dog, none of us actually care a jot.”
“Colleagues of mine actually carry little bags of doggie treats in their aprons. It’s not always that great though, last Halloween a dog messed in the drywall aisle and it wasn’t reported and cleaned up. For 30 minutes customers were running carts all through it!”
“My boss told me to never, ever ask for a service dog’s documentation otherwise we could get terminated. So, in effect I am working in a dog friendly Costco, even though officially it isn’t’.”
Are dogs allowed in Costco Canada?
However, things are a little different in Canada, and far stricter. Dogs are not allowed in Costco Canada, with zero exceptions aside from service dogs.
Here’s what their animal policy is quoted directly from a Canadian CostCo social media account I saw:
“The Costco Canada follows a strict no animals in-store policy. The safety of our customers and associates is our number one priority. Certified service animals are an exception to this policy and are welcome in our stores.”
There’s a good reason for this too given an incident at a Costco store in the United States.
In June of 2019 a woman was mauled to death by 3 dogs in the parking lot of a Costco in California. Now obviously that wasn’t in the store, and was not the fault of Costco, but you can imagine this led to many stores, including those in Canada, tightening up their interpretations of the rules.
Reviews from customers who love Costco’s service dog policy
As you would expect, many pet owners are more than happy that Costco lets service dogs inside. In fact, some of them go so far as to actually leave glowing reviews about the fact. Here are a just a few I’ve found from the last few years.
“I love your company’s service dog policy. On hot summer days, it means I don’t need to drive home first to drop her off, I can just bring her in with me, saving me an extra trip!”
“The employees at this store have always been friendly and helpful. Most of them recognize me and they may not know my name, but they do know my service dog’s name. They treat him very well, giving him treats when they have some.”
And some not happy with Costco’s dog policy
Of course, not everyone is going to be pleased that Costco is dog friendly. Here are some comments from people who don’t think dogs should be allowed inside the store.
“I like the store for its convenient location to my home. I dislike the store for its dog policy. There seem to be dogs in the store at every visit. Recently I came across a woman coming around a corner with a big dog on a leash, when I turned the corner there was a large pile of fresh dog doo in the middle of the floor, not a pleasant experience. Why not establish a no dog policy, including service dogs?”
“My little girl is scared of dogs so has to stay in the car with my wife whenever I come to your store. I think that the fact that dogs are allowed in Costco stores in scandalous and shows how little respect you have for customers who find it problematic.”
As a dog owner and lover, even I question the why people take dogs into Costco. I am not comfortable with it, and personally think it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen for the company due to the risks involved.
However, it seems that for the foreseeable future, you can bring your dog into Costco providing it’s a service dog only, or you tell the employees it’s a service dog. In fact, in many cases you might not even have to pass that test, if the comments from employees on Twitter are to be believed.
You might also like…
I regularly blog about big name establishments and their dog policies.